Category: Archive

All for one

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The industry’s workers last week voted unanimously in favor of joining Teamsters Local 553, the city’s original horse-drawn wagon union.
The New York City Council will hear arguments on Friday from those who work in the Irish-dominated trade and also from supporters of Queens Councilman Tony Avella’s bill aimed at outlawing the industry altogether.
“We like to think of this as shifting the political debate away from animal rights, where it doesn’t belong, to labor and jobs, which is what it’s always been about,” said Carolyn Daly, a spokesperson for the horse and carriage workers.
“We’ve always had horse power, but now we have serious political muscle,” said Stephen Malone, a prominent horse and carriage worker.
“We’re very happy with the positive feedback we’ve been getting from people in the city and on the council,” Daly said.
“Eighty percent of operating costs go to the care of the horses,” she said. “And those costs have skyrocketed over the past 20 years.
“Every day you’re hearing about layoffs, and yet there hasn’t been one layoff in our industry,” she added.
Daly said she was confident that the City Council would support a trade that has created and maintained jobs.
She said that the renewed link with the Teamsters is an important morale booster for the workers going into Friday’s meeting. It’s also hugely symbolic on a number of levels, even down to the Teamsters’ logo depicting two horses, which union members throughout North America call “Thunder” and “Lightning.”
“We actually have a horse called Thunder and we have a horse called Lightning,” Daly said.
Demos Demopoulos, Secretary-Treasurer Teamsters Local 553 said: “The Teamsters are thrilled to have the horse-drawn carriage operators, stable hands and drivers join our 120,000 strong union. We share a proud history and strong legacy of representing the hard-working men and women who drive horse-drawn vehicles.
Demopoulos continued: “Horse powered vehicles formed the backbone of our city, and our nation’s, wealth and commerce. Using our combined power, we will continue to have a strong and unified voice in City Hall, and will win the fight for fairness and dignity for all.”

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